The Morris Area/ Chokio-Alberta gymnastics team started the 2012-2013 season hosting the Tigers' own invite Saturday, Dec. 8.
"This is the largest squad that I have ever had," said coach Trent Oberg. "More than likely, the biggest in the history of the gymnastics program. We have 37 gymnasts.
"The large numbers are great to see," Oberg added. "It is a credit to our feeder programs and camps that have been offered over the years.
"With that come some challenging issues that we are working on," said Oberg. "Safety and time to be on the equipment are the biggest issues. We have had to become very creative in our practices - trying new arrangements, times, drills... even the weight room is being used more than we have in the past. It is definitely a work in progress - we will continue to adjust and experiment to find the best use of time and equipment for the gymnasts."
Last season's team did not have any seniors, which means all of the letter winners have returned.
"Many of the gymnasts trained over the summer at various camps and it has really shown these first weeks of practice. It is exciting to see how they have improved, strengthened and developed new tricks since last season. We are looking forward to a fun and exciting year - continuing to improve from where we ended last season."
Teams attending the Invitational were Benson/K-M-S, Frazee-Vergas, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, and New London-Spicer. Ortonville/C-G-B was scheduled to attend, but the threat of weather that day had them cancel.
The varsity-only competition features five gymnasts per event.
"When I began this invitational several years ago, I wanted it to be a relaxed and 'low-key' meet," explained Oberg. "It is early in the season and we need to get out and set the bar. The coaches and judges that attend this meet are very appreciative and supportive of this meet.
"With the size of our squad this season, I was a little nervous. The majority of the routines that I saw during the meet were 'new' to me. I had not had the chance to see all of them from start to finish until the meet. It was pleasantly surprising. I have some high hopes and expectations for the remainder of the season."
Individually Kourtney Giese had a great start to her season receiving four medals. She took third place on the Uneven Bars and Balance Beam, second place in All-Around, and first Place on the Floor Exercise.
Shala Nyvold and Haley Erdahl set new personal-best scores on the Vault.
"All in all, it was a great start to our season," added Oberg. "We as coaches were pleased with the results and are excited to see what the rest of the season will bring."
Jodi Snell and Kacy Newhowig return to assist Oberg this season, along with volunteer coach Abby MacHolda. Conditioning volunteer coaches in the weight room are Vicki Cannon and Lorie Hansen.